Grilling is often presented as a healthy alternative to cooking with oil, because grilled foods can be lower in saturated fat, if fat is allowed to drip out after it liquefies. Although other problems can occur that are forgotten or ignored.
- The use of the wrong heat sources used in grilled food that causes pollution
- The fat and juices lost by grilling can contribute to drier food. This represents that the food loses some minerals and vitamins in the grilling process
- Grill with flames
- Direct heat can expose food to temperatures often in excess of 260 °C (500 °F). Grilled meat acquires a distinctive roast aroma from a chemical process called the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction only occurs when foods reach temperatures in excess of 155 °C (310 °F).
Studies have shown that cooking beef, pork, poultry, fish, etc… by the traditional grilling methods at high temperatures can lead to the formation of two different types of carcinogens described as benzopyrenes.
1 – Heterocyclic amines – “HCAs are formed when amino acids (the building blocks of proteins), sugars, and creatine (a substance found in muscle) react at high temperatures”.
“Heterocyclic amines are the carcinogenic chemicals formed from the cooking of muscle meats such as beef, pork, fowl, and fish”.
“NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics found a link between individuals with stomach cancer and the consumption of grilled food, and other studies for colorectal, pancreatic, and breast cancer is associated with high intakes of medium well or well-done grilled food.”
“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service labeled several heterocyclic amines as likely to be carcinogenic to humans in their most recent Report on Carcinogens. Epidemiological studies show associations between intakes of heterocyclic amines and cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, prostate, pancreas, lung, bladder, stomach, and esophagus. No risk assessments have been made to estimate the risk of consuming heterocyclic amines. Changes in cooking techniques have been shown to reduce the level of heterocyclic amines in meat.”
2 – Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – “PAHs are formed when fat and juices from food grilled directly over an open fire or heat source, drip onto it, causing flames and smoke. These flames and smoke (combustion caused by the burn of the juices) contain PAHs that then, adhere to the food that are being cooking (the food cells are open). PAHs can also be formed during other food preparation processes, such as smoking of meats.”
“In the home, PAHs are present in tobacco smoke, smoke from wood burning stoves and fireplaces, creosote-treated wood products and some foods. Barbecuing, smoking or charring food over a fire greatly increases the amount of PAHs in the food.”
In the simplest explanation these chemicals are formed by putting food, primarily meats in contact with intense heat and flame. They are known cancer causing agents.